Beauty · Education · Inner View · Personal reflections · Reminders to self · Satyam Shivam Sundaram · Words of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

Enough With the Clichés on Change

Change is the only constant, it is often said. But nothing in the world is as simple as a cliché.

We must dig a bit deeper if we want to get closer to the truth.

What kind of change are they talking about who speak of constant change? Is it only an outer change? Or only an inner change? Or both? Who or what makes the change possible? Does it happen on its own? Or does someone or something compel or force or push for a change? Is change a natural phenomenon? Or is there another master-plan working behind the surface phenomenon of Nature?

What is the outcome of change? Is it always for the better? Can change also be for worse? What distinguishes a good change from the one that is not? Who decides what is a good change and what is not? Who decides what is good, period?

So many questions. And I am not done yet. There is also the question of why.

Why does change occur? What is the need for change? Why can’t things stay the same? Is there a  plan being unfolded through all the changes we see happening around us? Can we ever know that plan? Or even get a glimpse of it?

I am not sure I or any of us can have the complete answers to any or some of these questions. I am not even sure if I have all the questions yet.

But sometimes you don’t need to have the answers. Or at least not right away. You just need to keep asking the questions. More questions. So that you don’t believe anything just because it is told to you by an authority, by your textbook, by your teacher.

Change maybe a constant. But perhaps so is Beauty. So is Joy, and so is Delight.

This may not make any sense the moment we start looking around and see all the horrible stuff happening. In our lives, individually and collectively. In our homes, in our communities, in our worlds. Where is any Beauty in all the gross, all the terrible, heart-breaking, horrendous human behaviour that we witness all around us? Where is joy, delight in any of that?

And that’s when we begin to want a change. We begin to lose our innate joy, our innate delight in the world, in life, in existence. We begin to question Beauty. We begin to question whether any of this madness makes any sense. We begin to feel restless. We begin to wonder if we can do anything to change something. We begin to ask what changes we need in the system out there so that some of this madness can be stopped. We begin to get angry, more angry when we don’t see any changes happening. We get more restless. And so it goes on….

But where does it all take us? Do things ever change? Does the system become better? Does the horrible stuff stop? Or does one kind of terrible replace the other?

And a time comes when we start using another cliché — the more things change the more they stay the same.

If all change leads to only more of the sameness, why change in the first place?

So we are back to not really knowing anything. Not really having any answers.

And yet we must continue. Continue asking the questions, continue living the questions. With the hope that someday we will be able to “see” the truth, not in a book or in a system or in a religion, but within.

Change, but not for the sake of changing. Change, for evolving, progressing, transforming. Change, for constantly discovering beauty, joy, and truth.

“It is only when people truly want their consciousness to be changed that their actions also can be changed.” (The Mother, CWM, 15: 223)


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” (Maya Angelou)

Then there is the third cliché that people love to quote — ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ But what does it really mean? Surely each one of us can do a little something to make the world a better place. For instance, even by becoming more mindful of our consumption patterns we can add our tiny little bit for the good of the environment.

But is there something more we can do, in addition to changing our outer actions or behaviour? Something on a deeper, more fundamental level? On the level of human nature itself? On the level of our own nature? On the fundamental level of how and who we are on the inside?

Every time we make an absolutely sincere effort to gain a victory on some little imperfection of our nature, we bring about a vibration of change. This seemingly small but incredibly difficult work is what we must do if we want to really make a meaningful difference in the world around us, but more importantly in the world within us.

And then there is the power of vibration, vibration of goodwill if we wish to ‘be the change’. 

Q: Can one help the world with a vibration of goodwill?

The Mother: With good wishes one can change many things, only it must be an extremely pure and unmixed goodwill. It is quite obvious that a thought, a perfectly pure and true prayer, if it is sent forth into the world, does its work. But where is this perfectly pure and true thought when it passes into the human brain? There are degradations.

If through an effort of inner consciousness and knowledge, you can truly overcome in yourself a desire, that is to say, dissolve and abolish it, and if through inner goodwill, through consciousness, light, knowledge, you are able to dissolve the desire, you will be, first of all in yourself personally, a hundred times happier than if you had satisfied this desire, and then it will have a marvellous effect. It will have a repercussion in the world of which you have no idea. It will spread forth. For the vibrations you have created will continue to spread. These things grow larger like the snowball.

The victory you win in your character, however small it be, is one which can be gained in the whole world. And it is this I meant just now: all things which are done outwardly without changing the inner nature—hospitals, schools,etc.—are done through vanity, for the feeling of being great, whilst these small unnoticed things overcome in oneself gain an infinitely greater victory, though the effects are hidden. Every movement in you which is false and opposed to the truth is a negation of the divine life.

Your small efforts have considerable results which you don’t even have the satisfaction of knowing, but which are true and have precisely an impersonal and general effect. If you really want to do something good, the best thing you can do is to win your small victories in all sincerity, one after another, and thus you will do for the world the maximum you are able to.

Q: Will our victory act for the whole world?

The Mother: It will not change the whole world. For your victory is too small for the whole world. Millions of such victories are needed. It is a very small victory if compared with the whole. But it gets mingled with other things… It could be said that it is like bringing into the world the capacity of doing a thing.

But for this to act effectively, at times centuries are necessary; it is a question of proportion. You can try it out (and it is much more difficult) even with those around you. You must be absolutely sincere, not do it with the idea of getting a result, but because you want to gain a victory. If you gain it, it will necessarily have an effect on those around you.

But if a bargaining element is mixed up in it, if you do this thing because you want to get that other: “I want to overcome my defects, but that person must also overcome his”, then that doesn’t work. It is a merchant’s attitude: “I give this, but I shall take that.” That spoils everything. There is neither sincerity nor purity. It is bargaining. Nothing must be mixed with your sincerity, your aspiration, your motive. You do things for love of the Divine, for truth, for perfection, without any other motive, any other idea. And that brings results. (The Mother, CWM, Vol. 5, pp. 19-20)

So are we ready for a real change? Am I?



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